Pencho Slaveykov Regional Library was set up by the Varna Literary Society in 1883 owing to the generous donations of prominent public figures and patriots from the city. As the oldest cultural establishment in Varna, it was a leading library institution which played a vital role in providing support to human development and progress by performing essential educational, informative, social and cultural functions. It successfully combined its role of a depository of the Bulgarian literature with the mission of a main motive power in the search for and application of the innovations in the information society.
Some of the founders of the library were Krastyu Mirski, Haralan Angelov, Nikola Zhivkov, Panayot Kardzhiev, Mihail Koloni, etc. In 1887, it became a Municipal Public Library, and with a government decree of 22 June 1966 it was named after the great Bulgarian poet Pencho Slaveykov. By virtue of a Ministerial Decree of 28 July 2000, it became a regional cultural institute. As such, it has implemented and coordinated the government policy in the field of library science for Varna region.
Pencho Slaveykov Regional Library is a member of the Bulgarian Library and Information Association, of the Balkan Libraries Union, and participates as a partner in various programmes of non-government organisations and cultural institutions – the Global Libraries programme – Bulgaria, British Council, Goethe-Institut, Alliance Francaise, etc. The largest library in the region has a universal collection, consisting of over 870,000 library items.
In 1990, the technological procedures for processing library items, as well as the service of readers became entirely computerised. The reference tools of the library (catalogues and card indices) are maintained in an online version.
- catalogue in Bulgarian and foreign languages;
- catalogue of periodicals;
- thematic reference and bibliographic indices;
- Varna and Varna region card index;
- catalogue of rare and valuable collections;
The modern image of the public library is also demonstrated in the new forms replacing the traditional library service:
- electronic registration system;
- storage of the readers’ cards in an electronic format;
- identification of the library documents using barcodes;
- electronic order of documents
- interlibrary loan and receipt of items from other libraries in the country and abroad
- order of information and bibliographic references.
In 2016, self-service points for book borrowing and return were made available to the readers.
Pencho Slaveykov Regional Library keeps an active profile on the Internet; it communicates with the readers via the social networks on a daily basis and maintains its own Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Youtube accounts.
Varna Regional Library is among the pioneers in the publishing of electronic bibliographies in Bulgaria. They are available online here.
The library was nominated for the national award “Hristo G. Danov” in the category “Electronic Publishing and New Technology” for the multimedia bibliographic indices Pencho Slaveykov and Nikolay Liliev in 2004 and 2006, and in 1997 it was conferred the Varna award for publishing and regional studies, for popularising the history and culture of the city of Varna.
The library participates in the implementation of a number of projects which help and support the conversion of the library into a modern, cultural institution, which maintains a direct, immediate dialogue with its readers.
The responsibility to the conservation of the literary cultural heritage, as well as its popularisation, is a priority to Varna Regional Library. The most significant project of the library in this field is the project “Varna Digital Library”. It includes various documents – photographs from the end of 19-20 c., postcards, photographs of faces, events, buildings that are emblematic for Varna and the region, and also periodicals published after 1880 in Varna in possession of the library, cultural institutions from the city, community centres from the region, as well as private collectors. The digitised collection unites both the digitised documents and the metadata with the analytical descriptions of the artefacts. With this project, launched in 2008, the library participates in Europeana, Europe’s largest digital library, and also aggregates data from partner organisations across the country.
The library pays special attention to the continuing education not only in the professional field, but also with regard to the basic skills of both the specialists and its readers. In this context, the participation of Pencho Slaveykov Regional Library – Varna in the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme 2007–2013 has been of key importance to several initiatives, which have become sustainable practices over the years. One of these is Third Age Online – a practical course for elderly people, which aims at the acquisition of basic skills in the field of ICT.
The Erasmus+ programme is the new challenge truly accepted by the team of the library. Within this programme, which was launched in 2014, the library works under projects connected with the development of new virtual services suggested by the very readers.
Another significant and ongoing project realised by the library is the participation in the Global Libraries programme, which is aimed at turning the public libraries into centres providing easy and equal access to information, knowledge, communications and electronic services.
The work at Pencho Slaveykov Regional Library is also focused on the Google-generation, whose attention is delicately directed to the pleasure of communicating with the book through a series of initiatives, which have become a tradition: the Marathon of the Reading People, which started in 2003 in Varna, and later became a national campaign, and the invariably concomitant adventure A Fairy Night at the Library.
Holiday at the library is another initiative which provokes a new method of communicating with the students, in which volunteers participate in the search for materials on a given topic and the reading becomes a real theatrical experience.
Varna Regional Library has received well-deserved awards for its targeted and versatile work:
- in 2014, Pencho Slaveykov Regional Library was conferred the Annual Award of the Bulgarian Library and Information Association – “Library of the Year”;
- in 2006, it was the winner of the national award “Hristo G. Danov” in the category “Libraries and Library Science”;
- in 2003, it was the winner of the “Varna” award – for contribution to enriching the literary life of the city and for its role in promoting the culture of reading.
In 2016, the director of the library Emiliya Staneva-Milkova, PhD was conferred the award Bearer of Education 2016 in the category “They – the bearers of education”. The competition was organised by the National Assembly of Student Councils of the Republic of Bulgaria. In addition, in 2010, on the occasion of 24 May – the Day of the Bulgarian Education and Culture and of the Cyrillic Script, Mrs Emiliya Milkova was conferred an award for contribution to the development of the Bulgarian culture by the Ministry of Culture.
The most significant event in 2015 was the announcement of a competition for a conceptual design of a new building of Varna Regional Library by Varna Municipality in partnership with the Chamber of Bulgarian Architects and WhAT Association.
In the competition, which took place in November in the said year, participated 450 tenders, and 350 designs from all over the world, selected by a prestigious international jury, were admitted to the competition stage.
The design of the Dutch architectural bureau Architects for Urbanity, their visionary idea of a building of Varna Regional Library was distinguished by the experts unanimously.
A certificate of recognition for the special contribution and support rendered to the public libraries in Varna was awarded in 2016 to the Mayor of Varna Municipality, Mr Ivan Portnih. The award is for the joint work of the Municipal Administration and Pencho Slaveykov Regional Library and was awarded by the Global Libraries Foundation for the work under the project for construction of a new library building in Varna.
The team of Pencho Slaveykov Regional Library – Varna takes pride in the establishment of an institution which successfully implements the vision of a modern, present-day library, where the real and the virtual, the traditional and the innovative intertwine.